So many great resorts in the pacific are on the edge of reefs that are alive with tropical fish and beautiful coral, and often they have an area that is shallow enough for even young children with swimming abilities to experience snorkelling.
So what is your first time snorkeling experience going to be like? A once in a lifetime experience that you can't wait to repeat? Or a miserable, boring or even dangerous experience?
Here are some common things many first time snorkelers experience that are no fun:
- Leaking face mask
- Water flooding your snorkel tube
Fortunately, most of these bad experiences are avoidable, and come from common mistakes. Let's make sure it does not happen to you. Armed with a bit of knowledge you can expect your first time to be very fun and enjoyable.
First Time Snorkeling Tip #1: Don't Rent The Cheapest Equipment
Learn How To Fit A Mask & Prevent Fogging
Masks come in different sizes and shapes, and can be adjusted to your face. Rental places are often in a rush, so learning for yourself what to look for in a good fit, so it does not leak, is a good idea.
Learn below how to choose the correct size and type of mask for your face shape, and how to test to see if it is the perfect fit, before you buy or rent it.
What you are looking for is an airtight seal around your face, without having the mask too tight.
First, take a good look at your face. Is it narrow or wide? Are your eyes close together or wide apart?
Is your nose bigger or smaller? Do you have much space under your nose above your lip? So with these things in mind, try to pick a mask that looks like it will fit your face instead of how many windows it has or how cool you think it looks.
Fitting Hint For Men - Don't forget to shave before you go to do your snorkel mask fitting. It is hard to test a seal with a lot of stubble.
Now test it on your face. Pull the straps over the top of the mask and try the mask on your face, without putting the strap around your head. You must look in a mirror and notice where the skirt foot lies. Is it too narrow around the sides of your eyes? What about your nose, does it have plenty of room? You should not be pulling the nose pocket up against the underside of your nose. How about the bridge of your nose? Does the hard frame or glass rest on your nose anywhere? How about when you push the mask in a little bit? Because when you are snorkeling, water pressure will press the mask onto your face a bit.
Now, with the strap still over the top (not over your head yet), put the mask to your face, press slightly, inhale a small amount through your nose to suction it to your face, and release your hands. The mask should stay on your face without continuing to inhale.
You should be able to move around a bit without it falling off. Try moving your face muscles a bit. Does that break the seal? Try smiling. That will often break a seal on even a good fitting mask. But see what it does.
Good so far? Notice that a good fitting mask will stay on with just a little suction. Now try it with the mask strap on your head. You should get an airtight fit with very light strap pressure.
The strap should sit high on the back of your head, not resting on your ears. If it rests on your ears it will get painful.
If you have to pull the straps tight to get a fit, or if you have big red marks when it comes off, you have it too tight. A leaky mask is more often a case of straps too tight than too loose.
Also, make sure with the mask fully on that you can easily pinch your nose so that you can clear your ears when diving underwater.
Finally, with your mask on with the straps, see what happens to the seal when you put a snorkel in your mouth. Most people don't do this, but it can really change the shape of your face and break the seal of some masks. If it does, try another mask.
A fogging mask is a real pain, because you can't see very well through it.
You can prevent snorkel mask fogging; it is not difficult to stop, and it is important for enjoyment.
You may be surprised to learn that the number one reason for a foggy mask is a dirty mask.
The moisture forming inside your mask has to attach to something. That something is dirt specks and oils. Moisture cannot easily attach on a very clean mask. With a clean mask the moisture sheets down and collects at the bottom instead of fogging.
Moisture also can attach to the microscopic imperfections in the glass. That is why anti-fog, baby shampoo or spit works. They act as surfactants that reduce the surface tension of the condensing water, making it less likely to cling to the glass.
Prevent Snorkel Mask Fogging In Four Steps
- Clean your mask often, and then don’t touch it inside. Clean it with toothpaste, and a toothbrush, not your finger. Apply a small amount of toothpaste, and scrub it in hot water. Rinse it completely in hot water. Do this often. (If your lens is not glass, use dish soap and a very soft brush or wash cloth so you don't scratch the plastic.)
- Use anti-fog every time you snorkel. The cheapest and easiest is a very mild solution of baby shampoo and water, or you can buy an anti-fog product. Spray it in your mask and swish it around thoroughly so it touches every surface of the glass. DO NOT RUB IT AROUND WITH YOUR FINGERS! Your fingers are oily and dirty. Then rinse your mask ONCE quickly with either fresh or salt water. (We use 10-12 drops of baby shampoo mixed with water in a 2 ounce spray bottle.)
- Then, put it on your face quickly. Shake out any water drops before putting it on. Try to have a relatively dry face. Once the mask is on with a good seal, try to keep from removing it and allowing moisture to enter. Try not to clear the mask by breathing inside of it unless you must (that adds moisture). We enter the water with a dry mask, over a dry face, and do not take that mask off at all during the snorkel, if possible. And it works.
- If all else fails and you are out on the water with a foggy mask, remove it, spit in it, shake the mask around to coat the glass (don’t rub it with your fingers), dump it out, and put it back on, this will generally fix the problem. If you don't have a lot of spit, dilute it with a small amount of salt water to coat the glass.
- If this process does not work for you, then you may need to have your mask burned at a dive shop. Sometimes new masks come with a coating on the glass that must be removed with fire. After that, this process should work great for you.
Rent fins that are neither too tight, nor too loose, and that don't hurt. Having a fin fall off when you most need it, is potentially very bad. And getting sores on your feet from fins that have hard spots or are too tight will ruin your time. Keep in mind that your feet will be wet, and will often shrink a little in the cooler water, and so a snug fit is important. Don't even think about not having fins. They are essential for safety. They give you a tremendous amount of swimming force and will save you a ton of energy.
However, resort rental gear can be tired and ill-fitting or simply unavailable. So you may want to consider taking your own gear. Mask, snorkel and fins are light and easy to pack and ensure you have access to be able to snorkel whenever you like and your gear will be the right fit making your snorkelling experience so much better.
Wild Blue have quality mask and snorkel sets for the whole family starting from $39.00.
Also, new to Wild Blue are our Roam Snorkelling Fins. Extremely light weight with an adjustable heel strap they're available from children's sizes through to XL adult. The adjustable heel strap is great for growing kids as they'll get more than one year's use out of them. $39.00 all sizes.